Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers has denied that he made any demand to be included in the national squad for the ICC World Cup in England and Wales.
de Villiers, who retired from international cricket in May 2018, said that he had been asked at the time if he would be available if South Africa needed him for the World Cup. He had said that he would be and had repeated the same during a private conversation with Proteas captain Faf du Plessis during the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League.
"Faf and I have been friends since we were at school together and two days before the World Cup squad was announced, I contacted him for a chat," de Villiers said in a statement the screenshots of which were posted on his social media handles.
"I had been in decent form during the Indian Premier League and casually repeated what I had said when asked a year earlier, that I was available if required... but only if required. I made absolutely no demand at all. I certainly did not try to force my way into the World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament, and did not expect to be included. There was no burning issue from my side, and no sense of injustice," he said.
The controversy arose after it was revealed in a ESPNcricinfo news report that de Villiers had allegedly demanded to be included in the South Africa squad just after their defeat to India in the World Cup. The Proteas had a dismal tournament in England and Wales as they crashed out of the group stage with just three victories in nine outings.
de Villiers came in for criticism after the story broke and while the 35-year-old clarified that he had not demanded anything from du Plessis or the South African team management, he held no grudge against anyone for leaking the story.
"Out of the blue, on the evening after the Proteas lost to India, suffering a third successive World Cup defeat, elements of our private conversation were disclosed to the media, and distorted to cast me in the worst possible light. The story was not leaked by me, or anybody associated with me, or by Faf. Maybe someone wanted to deflect criticism. I don't know," he revealed.
de Villiers also said that the reason he retired from international cricket in May 2018 was to reduce his workload and spend more time with his wife and young sons. "Some have insisted I was motivated purely by money. They are wrong. In truth, I have turned down many lucrative offers to play around the world, and have cut the time spent away from home each year from rigwht months to just over three months.
"As a result, I was unfairly described as arrogant, selfish and indecisive, but with all humility, my conscience is clear. I retired for honest reasons and, when asked if I could be available for the World Cup, I agreed to keep the door open. In the event, understandably, the team moved on. No problem. I am not angry with anybody," de Villiers said.